Peter du Toit

Jul 043 min read

Learning to live with the virus for the next 12 to 18 months

We now know from the data that getting to the peak in the Western Cape is going to be a later than originally thought, (now forecast for the end of July beginning August) the peak is going to be flatter (meaning less hospitalizations and deaths at the peak) but longer. (“The virus is could be with us for longer than we thought, with this first peak only ending towards end of November.” — Alan Winde)

[Read the full statement regarding the projections here: Premier Alan Winde - Western Cape peak likely to be flatter, later and longer]


It means we are going to need to learn how to live with the virus AND attempt to live a full life. For this we need a personal and family strategy. A “playbook” if you will.

This piece in the NYT entitled 5 Rules to Live By During a Pandemic is an excellent example of what needs to be included in your playbook.

One of the 5 Rules they explore is this one:

📊 Check the health of your state and community

They say:

“To gauge your risk of coming into contact with an infected person, pay attention to two important indicators of Covid-19 in your area: the percentage of tests that are positive, and the trend in overall case rates.”

They continue:

“Start by learning the percentage of positive Covid-19 tests in your state, which tells you if testing and contact tracing are finding mild and asymptomatic cases. When positive test rates stay at 5 percent or lower for two weeks, that suggests there’s adequate testing in your state to get virus transmission under control, and you’re less likely to cross paths with the virus. The closer the number is to 2 percent, the better.”

(You can find the data for the Western Cape and Knysna here)

📌 Two quick things about our current data. For South Africa as a whole, the % of positive Covid-19 tests is currently over 23% - for the Western Cape it’s over 30%

As you can see this is WAY above the safety margin referred to above of 5%

With this knowledge you know that the risks are very high of coming into contact with infected people when you are outside your home. As a result of knowing this we can modify our behaviour.

  1. We should avoid contact with people outside of our home as much as possible.
  2. We should be keeping at least a 1.5/2m distance from others when you are forced to be with people, whether that be in a work environment or while obtaining daily necessities.
  3. We should definitely be wearing a mask to prevent becoming a spreader.
  4. We should avoid any crowded area, whether that be a mall or a restaurant.

When the positivity numbers decline to below 5% then as Erin Bromage, a comparative immunologist and biology professor at the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth says:

“It doesn’t mean you have total freedom. It means there’s enough testing going on that you can feel confident that your interactions in society are going to be of much lower risk.”

Remember the data does not lie, use the data as your guide to stay safe.

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